Tuesday, August 20, 2013
#NFLRank and the NFC South
By Pat Yasinskas
Three NFC South players were added Tuesday to ESPN.com's #NFLRank project, which ranks the top 100 offensive and top 100 defensive players in the NFL.
86. New Orleans Saints guard Ben Grubbs
ESPN Stats & Info: Grubbs played every offensive snap for the Saints last season. On third or fourth down with 2 yards or fewer to go, the Saints averaged 3.4 yards before contact per rush, third best in the NFL.
Yasinskas comment: The Saints couldn’t afford to re-sign Carl Nicks last season due to salary-cap issues. So they did the next best thing and signed Grubbs to a reasonable contract. Grubbs isn’t as dominating as Nicks was, but he’s very solid.
87. Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson
ESPN Stats & Info: Jackson is the only player to rush for at least 1,000 yards in each of the past eight seasons. He is one of eight players in NFL history to reach 1,000 rushing yards in eight of his first nine seasons.
Yasinskas comment: Jackson might not be what he was in his heyday in St. Louis. But he still is a big upgrade over Michael Turner. We all know that Jackson can run, but I think people will be surprised by how much he’s used in the passing game.
86. Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon
ESPN Stats & Info: Since he took over as the full-time starter in 2011, Weatherspoon has defended 10 passes less than 15 yards downfield, second most among linebackers during that span.
Yasinskas comment: Weatherspoon is the closest thing the Falcons have to a star on their defense. He needs to elevate his game a bit more and start making big plays for this defense to hit its potential.
NFC South showing to date:
98. Carolina offensive tackle Jordan Gross
100. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton
93. Atlanta safety William Moore
96. Atlanta defensive end Osi Umenyiora
97. Tampa Bay safety Mark Barron
98. Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David